FACE forges ahead with new director, fund-raising plans
By Kenneth J. Souza
BOURNE, Mass. — It’s clear that Sandi M. Duxbury, who recently became the first-ever executive director of the diocesan Foundation to Advance Catholic Education, has a passion and appreciation for Catholic schools.
The product of a Midwestern Catholic education herself, Duxbury’s two daughters also attended St. Margaret’s Regional School in Buzzards Bay and graduated from Bishop Stang High School in North Dartmouth.
“It was so important to me that when my first daughter was born, she was just 10 weeks old when I registered her for Kindergarten; and my second daughter, she was 10 months old before I registered her, but we wanted to make sure that they were all set,” Duxbury recently told The Anchor. “So that’s how important it was to me to make sure they got a good Catholic education and they both did.”
Previously run under the auspices of the Development Office by former director James A. Campbell, who also oversaw the annual Catholic Charities Appeal, FACE provides need-based scholarships for students from kindergarten through grade eight to attend Catholic schools in the Fall River Diocese. And while FACE has always been its own fund-raising entity, it will now greatly benefit from having a dedicated executive director who can give it the full attention it deserves.
“I think now with my position, it’s going to be more visibly its own entity,” Duxbury said. “We’re going to have our own fund-raising opportunities, which we’ve had before, but now we’ll have our own marketing activities, our own voice, our own communications. That type of thing will definitely be specific to FACE. I couldn’t imagine trying to do Catholic Charities and FACE at the same time. Just the allocations process alone is a big, big job — much less trying to figure out how to continue the fund-raising portion of it and just other structural and operational issues. So I think this is a step in the right direction.”
A resident of Bourne who attends St. John the Evangelist Parish in Pocasset, Duxbury decided to take on her new role after a 25-year career in health care marketing and medical devices.
“My background is actually in health care,” she said. “I spent about five years at a large radiology practice in Rhode Island. I’ve worked in marketing of medical devices, in patient education and physician education, clinical studies, sales force support, that kind of thing.
“I had taken a job with a former employer, and it just wasn’t working out. I had actually applied to the diocese before I took that job. So, as soon as this opportunity came up, I just knew it was the right time to make a career change.”
For Duxbury, one of her primary tasks is to let people know about FACE and some of the scholarship opportunities it provides.
“Money can be the biggest impediment (to attending Catholic school) and there are so many families out there that don’t even think they would qualify for any type of financial aid,” Duxbury said. “So I guess if there’s one message I want to get out, it is you don’t know until you apply and you won’t get any scholarship if you don’t apply. So it’s worthwhile to apply.”
While applications are processed through the FACTS tuition management online system, FACE even assists by covering half of the $30 application fee.
“So it’s just $15 to apply and you really have nothing to lose, to determine whether or not you qualify for something,” she said. “So I would highly encourage parents to go through the process. They do need to be registered at one of the Catholic schools in order to apply, so I would find a school that fits your needs and then figure out how the finances can be worked out later — and FACE certainly plays a big part in that.”
FACE has a general scholarship fund, but also more specific awards like the Hope and Opportunity initiative through the Carney Family that provides scholarships for students who are deemed to be below Title I poverty levels in Taunton, New Bedford and Fall River. There’s also a scholarship for students living on Cape Cod.
“There’s a variety of different scholarships that are available based upon financial need, and we have an allocations committee that goes through each of the applications and determines what kind of scholarship we’re able to offer,” Duxbury said. “It’s been very rewarding. I mean, I’ve already talked to a lot of families myself and it’s been just amazing to see the gratitude and appreciation these parents have to make sure that their kids can stay in Catholic schools.”
Since officially taking over the reins July 16, Duxbury has hit the ground running and has been working to raise awareness of FACE through in-person events and an increased online presence. She recently set up a new Facebook page (www.facebook.com/FACEhelpskids) that has been sent to all the diocesan schools and she’s in the process of revamping and updating the organization’s website (www.face-dfr.org).
“Social media is a big part of what people read and listen to and pay attention to today, so we revamped the FACE Facebook page, and we sent it out to all the schools so hopefully all the schools are liking us and we can make a lot of connections there,” she said. “We’ll post all types of events, possibilities for donations and other types of things and communications on Facebook. And then we are in the process of revamping the FACE website and we hope that will be launched by the end of September to mid-October. That will be very active in terms of events and media. I’m featuring different stories from different schools, that type of thing. The URL is the same, but it’s going to look completely different and will provide a lot more information for families in terms of what FACE is and what the scholarships are and how to go about applying for them.”
If that weren’t enough, Duxbury is also preparing for FACE’s biggest annual fund-raiser, the Fall Scholarship Dinner, which will be held on Tuesday, October 30 beginning at 5:30 p.m. at White’s of Westport. This year’s keynote speaker will be Chris Lowney, a renowned author and leadership consultant.
“I think he has an interesting background and I think he’s entertaining, too,” Duxbury said. “His background — going from Jesuit seminarian to financier on Wall Street — is quite the career path. But I think he’ll bring some interesting observations and thoughts on leadership. One of his books is actually on the required reading list for the U.S. Marine Corps.”
During this year’s dinner, FACE will also be honoring Dr. Jean MacCormack, former chancellor of UMass Dartmouth, with the Timothy J. Cotter Award.
“I think she brought a lot of growth to the school, a lot of visibility,” Duxbury said. “I think she helped develop the law school there as well. So she’s been very instrumental in the growth of UMass Dartmouth and has played a very integral role in education in general in this area.”
Duxbury hopes the Fall Scholarship Dinner will not only bring in additional funds to help provide more scholarships for Catholic school students, but also raise awareness of the increasing need for these endowments.
“I hope we can help more students, because definitely right now the need outweighs the resources we have, it really does,” she said. “We would love to have more people donate to that particular fund so that we can expand the number of students that want to come to Catholic schools but just don’t really have the means. There are many people out there, as I said before, that really don’t even give it a thought because they just think they can’t afford it. So we need to expand our communication efforts and education.”
Having provided about 900 scholarship awards to students for the current school year, Duxbury aspires to top 1,000 recipients next year.
“I’m just very excited to have this opportunity,” she said. “I’ve always been passionate about Catholic education even before I thought of making it a career. Like I said, the people I’ve spoken to already told me the difference that FACE and the diocese have made in their lives. It’s just amazing that these families will do anything to try to keep their kids in Catholic schools. So we want to do as much as we can to help keep these kids there and to expand it to more kids because I think everyone should have the opportunity for this wonderful education.”
For more information about FACE, including tickets and sponsorship opportunities for the Fall Scholarship Dinner, visit www.face-dfr.org or call 508-675-1311.